July 20, 2004

For quite some time The Clear Law Enforcement for Criminal Alien Removal Act of 2003 (The Clear Act)  has been pending in Congress.  That legislation would allow law enforcement officials to enforce immigration laws.  The CLEAR Act has caused a stir from all sides including many police associations.  Police officers are arguing that they are not immigration experts  and have not been trained to enforce complicated immigration laws.   
The proposed legislation seems to shift the burden of enforcing the federal immigration laws to police officers.  There is concern that such legislation would prevent immigrants regardless of their immigration status from  cooperating with local and state officials.  In the wake of 9-11  many individuals were hesitant to volunteer information to police officers for fear that they would have been turned over to immigration officials. Instead of enhancing national security, The Clear Act might promote fear and distrust among immigrant populations.

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